Vintage Vault Repost: Royal Rumble 1989

Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Each repost comes with the audio for the Place to Be Podcast episode where the show is reviewed.  Please scroll to the bottom to find your listening and downloading options!

Vintage Vault Repost: Royal Rumble 1989

January 15, 1989
The Summit
Houston, Texas
Attendance: 19, 000
Buy Rate: 1.5
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura

Dark Matches

1) Jim Powers (James Manley) defeated Barry Horowitz

2) Sam Houston defeated Steve Lombardi

3) King Haku (Uliuli Fifita) defeated Harley Race (This match aired on PPV, but is not on the Coliseum Video Release)

Actual Show

1) The Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan defeat the Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) in a two-of-three falls match

Raymond Rougeau pins Bret Hart at 4:30
Jim Duggan pins Raymond Rougeau at 10:10
Bret Hart pins Dino Bravo at 14:55

Scott: The first PPV match of the New Year is a six-man tag that I’ve always had mixed feelings about. On the one hand, you have the Hart Foundation and the Rougeaus. Two fabulous and talented Canadian teams that could have made this match great on its own. Then, the extra dead weight: Dino Bravo, who after a year is still being carried by his weightlifting record, hasn’t really enhanced his character and then there’s Jim Duggan. Ugh. Having said that, this match is actually not bad. The Harts and Rougeaus fill the tag formula quite nicely. Even when Bravo and Duggan are in there, it’s not offensive. Then in the deciding fall, the one thing that PISSED ME OFF as a kid about that asshole Duggan. When the referee isn’t looking, Duggan brings out the 2X4 and pastes Bravo with it, and Bret gets the pin. What the fuck is that? I’m sorry, but the whole “two can play that game with the heels” theory is bullshit. He’s a face, and we’re cheering foreign objects? Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but I found it tiresome and dull. This match is a little better than I remember it, even with the shitty ending. Grade: **1/2

Justin: A pretty solid six man kicks off the 1989 PPV year, and is highlighted by a major win for the somewhat stagnant Hart Foundation. Hart and Neidhart had been floundering a bit since their face turn in mid-1988 and were getting lost in the shuffle. They were far below Demolition as far as crowd pops go, and it looked like they are going to be passed by the recently debuted Rockers, who were gaining a pretty big following. The Harts, however, pick up big wins on the first two PPVs of the year and seemingly get on tract as 1989 rolls along. Their teammate, Duggan, however, is still mightily over with the crowd, as the USA chants ring loud through the building. On the other side, we find another struggling tag team in the Rougeau Brothers. After a solid 1988, the Rougeaus are pushed deep into the heel tag team depth chart behind the Powers of Pain, the Twin Towers and the Brain Busters. Their whole “All-American Boys” shtick is still pretty funny and they gain a lot of heat, but because of the depth of the tag division, they really had no shot of getting a title run or a major title feud with Demolition. Their in ring work is still top notch, though, and they put on a clinic here, as them and Bravo dismantle Bret for most of the match, building to the hot ending. After getting a big push in 1988, Bravo continues on his roll in early 1989. By the summer, he would finally ditch the useless Frenchy Martin and would hook up with Jimmy Hart, who would remain his manager through 1991. This match was a good way to start off the PPV year, as it was 15 minutes of solid action capped off by the face team going over. Grade: **1/2

**Ravishing Rick Rude and the Ultimate Warrior have a pose down competition. The crowd is firmly behind Warrior. In the end, Rude whacks him in the back of the head with a bull-worker. He chokes Warrior out with it, and leaves. Warrior gets up and beats the hell out of the road agents before leaving the scene. This begins an 18-month feud that had many great moments. This is the beginning. Warrior was immensely popular already, and this puts him over the top. Rude had just finished a feud with Jake Roberts, and needed something new to chew on. This was it. Gorilla and Jesse’s commentary is priceless, as Gorilla rips Bobby Heenan and Jesse rips Gorilla for his age. This was a great segment that builds Rude’s already burgeoning heel heat. **

2) Rockin Robin (Robin Smith) defeats Judy Martin (Bea Arthur) to retain WWF Women’s Title with a high cross body at 2:47 (clipped)

Scott: What the fuck was this mess? Rockin Robin is the champ, and Jake Roberts’ sister. She defeats Sherri Martel in October to win the title, causing Sherri to come out to challenge the winner during the match. Judy Martin is the former Glamour Girl, but she definitely looks like a Golden Girl, straight from the trailer park. Sherri’s annoying commentary, and the awful action in the ring makes this the most uncomfortable 2 minutes I’ve ever watched in wrestling history. I wish he would have skipped this mess on the tape and kept the Haku/Harley Race match that was cut off the Coliseum Video release. Even a departing Harley Race would have been better than this disaster. Grade: DUD

Justin: My lord, what a mess the Women’s division has become in just a 12 month span. At last year’s Rumble, the Jumping Bomb Angles and the Glamour Girls tore down the house and stole the show. A year later, and an even older Judy Martin has to try and carry a no-talent hack like Rockin Robin. Robin was supposed to be the centerpiece of the division, but the crowd could care less because she sucks so much. Not even the ultra-heel Sherri could get the crowd behind her. Thankfully, the feud and the belt were dropped right after this. Sherri would be repackaged as a manager, and would show up alongside Randy Savage in the summer. Robin would vanish after butchering the National Anthem at WrestleMania, and the women’s division would stay dead and buried until Alundra Blayze bursts on the scene in late 1993. Grade: DUD

3) Big John Studd wins the Royal Rumble

Order of Entrance (Followed by who eliminated them)

1. Demolition Ax (Bill Eadie): Mr. Perfect

2. Demolition Smash (Barry Darsow): Andre the Giant

3. Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff): Himself (Thanks to Damien)

4. Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig): Hulk Hogan

5. Ronnie Garvin (Roger Barnes): Andre the Giant

6. Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.): Randy Savage

7. Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.): Andre the Giant

8. Ron Bass (Ronald Herd): Rockers

9. Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom): Arn Anderson & Randy Savage

10. Bushwhacker Butch (Butch Miller): Bad News Brown

11. Honky Tonk Man (Wayne Ferris): Butch & Tito Santana

12. Tito Santana (Merced Solis): Arn Anderson & Randy Savage

13. Bad News Brown (Allen Coage): Hulk Hogan

14. Marty Jannetty (Marty Oaks): Brainbusters

15. Randy Savage (Randy Poffo): Hulk Hogan

16. Arn Anderson (Marty Lunde): Hulk Hogan

17. Tully Blanchard: Hulk Hogan

18. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea): Big Boss Man & Akeem

19. Bushwhacker Luke (Luke Williams): Hulk Hogan

20. Koko B. Ware (James Ware): Hulk Hogan

21. Warlord (Terry Szopinski): Hulk Hogan

22. Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor): Hulk Hogan

23. Akeem (George Grey): Big John Studd

24. Brutus Beefcake (Ed Leslie): Ted DiBiase & Barbarian

25. Red Rooster (Paul Taylor): Ted DiBiase

26. Barbarian (Sione Vailahi): Rick Martel

27. Big John Studd (John Minton): WINNER

28. Hercules (Ray Fernandez): Ted DiBiase & Barbarian

29. Rick Martel (Richard Vigneault): Akeem

30. Ted DiBiase: Big John Studd

Longest Time In: Mr. Perfect (27:58)

Shortest Time In: The Warlord (:03)

Most Eliminated: Hulk Hogan (9)

Fun Fact: Two debuts of note. First: Rugged Ronnie Garvin. From Montreal, but always announced from Charlotte, he is a former NWA World Champion who just needed a change of scenery. He was supposed to be the babyface in a feud with Ric Flair, but it backfired when he won the title and when Flair won it back at Starrcade 87, the crowd was decidedly against Garvin. The other debut is The Bushwhackers. Luke and Butch are from New Zealand, but they’re goofy personas are nothing like they’ve been in other promotions. Normally called the Sheepherders, they’ve been nasty heels with barbed wire wrapped around the New Zealand flag. Awesome heels who dominated the Midwest territories, mostly St. Louis. Since there were so many heel teams in the WWF at that time, Vince decided to change them to goofy, face licking babyfaces, much to Scott’s chagrin.

Scott: The first PPV Rumble and the first Rumble with 30 competitors has many subplots. First, there’s Andre the Giant, who looked dominant while in there. He tosses a couple of guys, including Jake Roberts. Roberts and Andre still have issues from Survivor Series. Jake responds by tossing Damien in the ring, and Andre eliminates himself. That feud continues on. The other big feud is not really a feud, yet. World Champion Randy Savage was about to be eliminated by Bad News Brown and Hogan tosses Brown out, but Savage goes out as well. Savage goes back in the ring and had some issues about it. Hogan and he yell a little, but work it out in the end. Ironically, Hogan is tossed by Boss Man and Akeem and bitches about it, eventually eliminating Boss Man from the outside. Get used to that, it’s common with him. After the match, Mean Gene interviewed Savage, who said he was a “victim of circumstance”. He did say that The Mega Powers would go on and on. Jesse doesn’t buy it, and smells a rat. We’ll see in our next review. Other points of note: It was cool to see Ted DiBiase buy #30 from one of Slick’s guys, and come in last, and in return Boss Man and Akeem come in back-to-back. Good way to use the match to forward a character. However, did Studd really need to win this? Maybe it was a respect sign from Vince to a loyalist who’s jobbed to Andre and Hogan numerous times. This would have been a good time to put over someone like DiBiase, Akeem, or Boss Man. Someone new and monstrous to build heel character development. Then there’s poor Mr. Perfect. The first of two Rumbles in a row he’s tossed by Hogan. This time it’s not so bad, as Perfect is new. Next year, it’s much less tolerable. A Rumble that serves its purpose; to advance storylines and build character development.

Justin: The first PPV Rumble was a pretty exciting one that kept the crowd hot for most of the match. Right off the bat, Ax and Smash are forced to fight, which helps get the concept of the Rumble established: every man for himself. The roster here is pretty stacked, but unfortunately all of the great workers and biggest names are tossed before the ending, leaving the crowd flat during the closing moments. They could have easily had the last 6 be Savage, Hogan, Boss Man, Akeem, Studd and DiBiase. Then you do the same proceedings, only it happens rapid fire at the end to keep the crowd hot right through, and then you can end the show with the Savage-Hogan confrontation instead of a meaningless Studd celebration. I am guessing Vince had some pretty big plans for a Studd-Andre feud, but Studd’s failing health prevented that, so his winning this match was sort of a waste. If anything, I guess, it showed that size mattered, and that the big guys should be favored in the Rumble matches. Now, lets us get back to Hogan and Savage for a minute. The sheer hypocrisy on Hogan’s part is nauseating, as he tosses Savage, and then gets pissy when Savage complains and freaks out on him. Then, a minute later, Hogan is cleanly tossed by his rivals (not his friend, like Savage) and he starts whining and complaining, and then illegally eliminates Boss Man. In mere moments he totally reverses his stance on eliminations: it is fine to eliminate people, as long as he isn’t being eliminated. What an ass. I hope everyone is ready, because 1989 is the first year where the chinks in the Hogan armor start to appear, and we call his ass out in these reviews. He was clearly the heel in this feud, but because of the time period, he was the face, which makes the whole feud kind of weird and ends up neutering Savage as a heel after Wrestlemania, since he was treated like a sympathetic face, loses the blowoff and then has nowhere to go. I am not saying Hogan should have turned heel, but he could have acted like less of one, and tried to gain more sympathy instead of being a whiny bitch. If they would have ran the same angle with the roles reversed, it would have made much more sense. Savage “accidentally” eliminates Hogan, who could then be rightfully pissed off. He distracts Savage, who is then tossed by the Twin Towers. Same results, but Hogan is positioned better as a face, and Savage as a heel. Adding to all this is Jesse Ventura’s top notch commentary, egging on the situation, especially in the post match interview. Other minor notes include DiBiase’s solid character development, the continuing Jake vs. Andre feud and the return of Rick Martel to PPV for the first time since WrestleMania IV. All in all, a great rumble story-line wise, but the weak ending definitely detracts from it quite a bit.


Scott: The inaugural PPV Rumble is really not that great except for the Rumble itself and the pose down. The undercard is non-existent, with a forgotten 6-man tag match and an absolutely brutal women’s match that’s mercifully clipped. As mentioned above, there’s a Haku/Harley Race match that’s taken off the Coliseum Video release. They left Rockin Robin and Betty White on there, but not Haku/Harley Race? That even had a back story, as Harley was fighting for the “King” title back. I feel so bad for those in the arena that had to watch that women’s mess. This show is carried by the now symmetrical broadcast team of Gorilla and Jesse. The passion Jesse puts into his commentary over the good guys he can’t stand is pure gold, and is sorely lacking in today’s wrestling announcers. The Mega Powers storyline is reaching its breaking point, as you can definitely see something was going to happen. Speaking of the Mega Powers, as I watch it now 16 years later, I wonder something. Were we so blind to Hulkamania that Hogan clearly is more of a heel here? He’s hogging the champ’s glory, he’s taking the woman. Yet, because it’s “Hulkamania”, we just went along with it like drones? I’m not selling out my Red and Yellow loyalties, but it’s just funny how now that we’re all older and smarter we look at it differently. Anyway, this reaches a head in our next review. Other than the pose down and the Rumble, this show is below average. Final Grade: C-

Justin: A decent PPV to kick off 1989, but the whole show seemed like one big build to WrestleMania, which was fine. The opener was good, but really led nowhere; the women’s mess was uglier than Judy Martin and the pose down was solid enough, but nothing spectacular. From what I’ve read, the Race vs. Haku match was actually pretty good, so it is too bad we don’t get to see it here. I have said all that is needed to be said about the Rumble above. Studd winning was kind of dumb, but who knows the plans they had for him, so you can’t complain too much, I guess. No one really got the annual “Rumble Jesus Push” that has become a main staple of the match, as Hogan tosses 9 guys, but is only in the match for 11 minutes. I guess you could say Mr. Perfect has the best overall showing, as he went in early and lasted nearly a half hour. All in all, a solid enough show as far as the Road to WrestleMania goes, but it doesn’t hold up too well on its own. Final Grade: C-